Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Guest post – Leagues O’Toole on Primavera 2010 – Saturday

On Saturday afternoon, I march straight into a schedule jam the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. The gorgeous chiming surf-pop of New Jersey’s Real Estate is so enjoyable I catch them for a second helping at a free …

Mon, May 31, 2010, 16:02


On Saturday afternoon, I march straight into a schedule jam the likes of which I’ve never experienced before.

The gorgeous chiming surf-pop of New Jersey’s Real Estate is so enjoyable I catch them for a second helping at a free show in the beautiful Parc Joan Miro the following day. Having never heard of Clare and the Reasons before, I am intrigued to why they’re playing the Auditori so I take a chance and I’m not disappointed as Reason’s mini-orchestra treat us to folky versions of Shelley Duvell’s “He Needs Me” and Genesis’ “That’s All”.

They even coax PS10’s adopted elder statesman, Van Dyke Parks, to tinkle the ivories on the closing track. He’s up next, accompanied by some of the Reasons themselves and it starts to make sense. And he is wonderful, playful, brilliant, delighting the jammed Auditori with childlike pop surrealism.

Literally tearing myself away from this reverie in a bid to catch Krautrock godhead Michael Rother perform a special Neu! set on the ATP stage. Along the way, I watch Bradford Cox perform as Atlas Sound, where the Deerhunter frontman seems to have reinvented the original electronic concept into a modern day troubadour completely with acoustic guitar and harmonica, but not without plenty of looping pedal trickery. At ATP we find Rother aided by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Tall Firs man Aaron Mullen juggling noodly lap-top compositions with full-on motorik rock-outs. Good stuff.

I even manage to make it to the blistering climax of New Zealand’s indie-rock godfathers The Clean on the Vice Stage. How I would have loved to watch the full set. How I would love to see a Chills reunion at PS11 (the other Clean connected band The Bats played at PS09). Time out to contemplate an already incredible day, as the waft of Spanish weed breezes across Parc del Forum.

Next stop is Grizzly Bear on the Ray-Ban stage, which is a really beautifully setting, backlit by the Mediterranean with its slow-moving trawlers and luxury yachts. That said, it’s had the least interesting programme and I feel I really need to see somehow special play here and who better than Grizzly Bear? And they don’t disappoint, as slow-burning psychedelia fills the air and driftwood harmonies bring Primavera to a standstill. They seem to be having fun too, like most of the acts here, they constantly thank this festival for being so wonderful, for allowing them to play. I’ve never witnessed such en masse goodwill for a music event in all my days. There’s so much else I’d like to see, but I’m locked in Grizzly Bear mode right to the finish. Nonetheless, I am delighted to hear Galway’s So Cow, the only Irish act on this year’s bill, pulled off a cracker to a packed Adidas Originals stage for rising artists.

Next stop is No Age at Pitchfork, who are now a 3-piece with additional samples to propel Randy and Dean’s brilliant noise-punk pop songs. The new material sounds fantastic and leaves me drooling in anticipation of a new record in September. I’m tempted to stay for Dum Dum Girls and their deadly doowop shoegaze, but I opt for Liquid Liquid instead. The post-punk rhythm-masters are the most sprightly 50 year olds I’ve ever seen on a stage. Amazing to hear “Optimo” and “Bellhead” live and it was too much for their biggest fan, Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington, who couldn’t resist a stage invasion.

On my way to Pet Shop Boys, I meet someone wildly enthusing over Jeffrey Lewis’ new band The Bundles and their Travelling Wilburys’ cover version and someone else waxing lyrical about The Almighty Defenders, a mash up of King Khan and Black Lips performing hilarious anti-gospel on ATP. I would have loved to catch both but that’s how the cookie crumbles at Primavera.

Taking the San Miguel headline slot, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe put on a spectacular stageshow with no expense spared. After three days of indie-rock, it’s kind of refreshing to enjoy big Number One hits, costume changes and ridiculous choreography. Watching all four Dum Dum Girls dance in a circle in full stage regalia to “West End Girls” is a sight I’ll never forget.

Ben Frost, meanwhile, is apparently bringing ATP to its knees with serene piano-noise compositions. Orbital do the standard set complete with the bloody Belinda Carlisle-Bon Jovi routine on the mad-out-of-it slot at Ray-Ban and I catch the last glorious moments of Health blast out thunderous ravey noise at Vice. Heroic stuff. I collapse on a lounger by the sea and listen to mixed-up collage of the various DJs on each stage bringing the party to a close. PS10 – an incredible experience.